What will I study?
Through your studies, you'll gain a understanding of how concepts and practices of gender and sexuality function in contemporary societies. And develop skills to identify gender and sexuality-related issues within complex, changing social and cultural contexts.
Your course structure
The Bachelor of Arts requires the successful completion of 24 subjects (300-points), including at least one major. Most students study eight subjects each year (usually four subjects in each semester) for three years full-time, or the part-time equivalent.
Most Arts majors require 100 points of study (usually eight subjects) for attainment. This means out of your 300-point program, you have the opportunity to achieve two majors in your course.
COMPLETING YOUR MAJOR
If you are taking Gender Studies as a major, you must complete:
- One level 1 compulsory subject and one Arts Foundation subject (MULT10014 Identity is strongly recommended)
- One level 2 compulsory subject and 25 points (usually two subjects) of level 2 Gender Studies subjects and/or approved elective subjects*
- One level 3 compulsory subject
- One level 3 capstone subject
- 12.5 points (usually one subject) of level 3 Gender Studies subjects and/or approved elective subjects*
If you are taking Gender Studies as a minor, you must complete:
- One level 1 compulsory Subject
- One Arts Foundation subject (12.5 points)
- 25 points (usually two subjects) of level 2 Gender Studies subjects and/or approved elective subjects* (usually at second-year)
- 25 points (usually two subjects) of level 3 Gender Studies subjects and/or approved elective subjects* (usually at third-year)
Breadth is a unique feature of the Melbourne Model. It gives you the chance to explore subjects outside of arts, developing new perspectives and learning to collaborate with others who have different strengths and interests — just as you will in your future career.
Some of our students use breadth to explore creative interests or topics they have always been curious about. Others used breadth to improve their career prospects by complementing their major with a language, communication skills or business expertise.
*NOTE: As long as all 4 compulsory Gender Studies subjects are completed, students taking the Gender Studies major or minor may select different gender-related subjects taught in the Arts Faculty not listed below to make up the required additional points at levels 2 and 3, with the written approval of the Gender Studies coordinator. The Capstone is not available in the minor.
Eleanor Twomey is studying a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Gender Studies and Criminology
In my first year of the Bachelor of Arts, my eyes were opened to the issues we face on a local and national level – with gender-based violence being one that I became particularly passionate about. I eventually chose a double major in Gender Studies and Criminology because this issue lies at the intersection of these disciplines.
Through my Gender Studies major I have come to realise how entrenched our socialised expectations of men and women are in society. The gender expectations placed on us from birth restrict our individual choice and lead to future inequalities. Through critiquing the gender binary, as well as heteronormativity in society, I have been able to see the value in deconstructing rigid gender roles and stereotypes, as well as celebrating non-binary identities and sexualities.
Alongside my degree I have volunteered for Chalk Circle, an independent non-for-profit that aims to create conversations around gender literacy to empower the next generation. I started off at Chalk Circle as a workshop facilitator in 2016, and have delivered workshops on gender and its effects to students, teachers, and other professionals. As the Executive Officer of this organisation, my majors give me an expert position on this subject, and allow me to shape our programs, workshops, and campaigns effectively.
I am also involved in the Victorian Government-funded LGBTI Leadership Program, run by Leadership Victoria. This training is focused on personal and professional development as a leader, network-building and looking at specific issues in the LGBTI community. With the combined knowledge from both my majors I am better able to interrogate the social and structural factors that lead to one woman being killed by a partner or former partner per year in Australia, as well as the violence many more women and children face in abusive relationships across the country.
Explore this major
Explore the subjects you could choose as part of this major.
- Sex, Gender and Culture: An Introduction12.5
Sex, Gender and Culture: An Introduction
The world is gendered - but what is gender? We know gender is fundamental to the way in which we see ourselves and others, and how our communities and institutions are organised, but why? Why do gender norms and stereotypes emerge? What effects do they have on our lives? Drawing on feminist and queer theory, transgender studies, masculinity studies, and a range of disciplines across humanities and social sciences, this subject introduces students to the major concepts in gender studies, including: biological determinism, cultural essentialism, social constructionism, power and inequalities, sexuality, and queering categories of difference. Using a variety of case studies from social media, politics, sport, fashion, film, and music, the course will analyse how sex, gender, age, ethnicity, race, class, politics and social movements intersect to influence our understanding of sex, gender, and culture.
Who we are and what we do is all tangled up in our identity. This subject considers how identities are constructed and maintained through mediated processes of self and other. The subject investigates the myriad demands and devices that figure in constructing our senses of self and other (including language, leisure, beliefs and embodied practices). By exploring identity in diverse contexts, across time and place, the subject maps varying conceptions of self and other and how these conceptions are constructed and maintained. A key focus is on how these mediated conceptions of self and other are translated into material practices of inclusion, exclusion, discrimination, violence and criminalisation.
Language plays a central role in the central disciplinary areas in the humanities and social sciences. This subject gives students tools for thinking about language in a range of disciplines, including linguistics, history, sociology, politics, literary studies, anthropology, language studies, psychology and psychoanalytic theory. It shows how language can be analysed as a system, but also how language features centrally in politcal and social contexts: for example, in the processing of the claims of asylum seekers, in developing views of ethnicity, race and nation, and in colonialism; and in the construction of gendered and sexual identity. The role of language in the psyche, and the process of acquisition of languages in children and in adults, are also important topics. Knowing how to think about language, and familiarity with the main thinkers who have discussed language in a range of humanities and social science disciplines, provide an indispensable basis for study in any area of the Arts degree.
The idea of power is a way to grasp the character of social relations. Investigating power can tell us about who is in control and who may benefit from such arrangements. Power can be a zero-sum game of domination. It can also be about people acting together to enact freedom. This subject examines the diverse and subtle ways power may be exercised. It considers how power operates in different domains such as markets, political systems and other social contexts. It also examines how power may be moderated by such things as regulation and human rights. A key aim is to explore how differing perspectives portray power relations and how issues of power distribution may be characterised and addressed.
Reason, many believe, is what makes us human. Until recently, most scientists and philosophers agreed that the ability to use the mind to analyse and interpret the world is something intrinsic to the nature of our species. Reason has a long and extraordinary history. We will explore a number of inter-related themes: the nature of reason from Ancient Greece to our contemporary world; the ever shifting relationship between reason and faith; reason's place in the development of scientific experimentation and thinking; shifting perspectives about the uses of Reason and, finally, how reason relates to theories of the mind, exploring the tensions between reason, the passions and the will.
Reason will take you on a journey from Plato's cave to the neuro-scientists' lab. We will visit revolutions in science, thinking and politics. We will explore the impact of some of the great philosophers of history, including Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Bentham, Coleridge, Marx, Nietzsche, Foucault and many more besides. By the end of this subject you will have a deep understanding of the importance of the idea of reason to human history and philosophy. You might, even, be able to answer the question: 'does reason exist?'
Reason is an Arts Foundation Subject and we will argue that understanding the history and philosophy of reason provides great insights into many aspects of the humanities from political philosophy to understanding history. We will, of course, be paying particular attention to the foundational skills that will help you successfully complete your Arts major: particularly critical thinking and argument development.
- First Peoples in a Global Context12.5
First Peoples in a Global Context
This subject will provide students with an introduction to the complexity, challenges and richness of Australian Indigenous life and cultures. Drawing on a wide range of diverse and dynamic guest lecturers, this subject gives students an opportunity to encounter Australian Indigenous knowledges, histories and experiences through interdisciplinary perspectives. Across three thematic blocks - Indigenous Knowledges, Social and Political Contexts and Representation/Self-Representation - this subject engages contemporary cultural and intellectual debate. Social and political contexts will be considered through engagement with specific issues and a focus on Indigenous cultural forms, which may include literature, music, fine arts, museum exhibitions and performance, will allow students to consider self-representation as a means by which to disrupt and expand perceptions of Aboriginality.
Humans grapple with representations of themselves and their contexts. They also like to imagine other possible worlds. We use words, language, images, sounds and movement to construct narratives and stories, large and small, about the trivial and the profound, the past and the future. These representations can help us to understand worlds but they can also create worlds for us. This subject explores how different genres such as speech, writing, translation, film, theatre and art generate representations of social life, imagination and the human condition. A key aim of the subject is to develop a critical appreciation of how language, images and embodied gestures are used to construct empowering and disempowering discourses.
- Sex and Gender Present and Future12.5
Sex and Gender Present and Future
How do sex and gender operate in the world today, and what are their possible futures? Indeed, do these concepts have a future? Can they adequately capture the breadth, range and fluidity of contemporary and global sexed and gendered lives? Key themes explored in this subject include: current theories and experiences of sex and gender in the world today; the increasing instability of the concepts of sex and gender and their transformations; gender fluidity; the persistence of gender inequality; gender as a cultural category versus gender as lived bodily experience; and the uses and abuses of the gender concept. The subject culminates by considering imagined futures of everyday gender practices and of sexualities. These themes will be explored in a global and cross-cultural context.
- Aboriginal Women and Coloniality12.5
Aboriginal Women and Coloniality
Aboriginal Women and Coloniality is a multidisciplinary subject looking at the various roles Aboriginal women have played in Aboriginal and Settler society. It examines stereotypical representations of Aboriginal women in colonial art and culture, the depiction of Aboriginal women in literature, cinema and fine arts, the role Aboriginal women have played in the economy as workers, as well as their roles as nurturers and carers, activists and community leaders. Theories and approaches from gender and post-colonial studies and new historicism will be utilised to provide the intellectual framework for this subject. The subject will conclude with consideration of the critique that female Aboriginal artists and writers have made of these representations, and the forms of self-representation produced in their work.
- Anthropology of Gender and Sexuality12.5
Anthropology of Gender and Sexuality
This subject offers a specifically anthropological perspective to understandings of gender and sexuality, providing an empirical, cross-cultural framework with which to evaluate and examine various theoretical perspectives. Topics covered include the influence of an anthropologist's gendered and sexual identity in shaping ethnography, the meaning of heterosexuality in a cross-cultural context, gender and Islam, gender and kinship, gendered experiences of migration, male and female sex tourism, and experiences of masculinity, femininity and third gender categories and identities in the world today. On completion of the subject students should have gained knowledge of gender-based systems of social classification in a global context and through this develop a critical awareness of the representation of women's and men's lives in ethnography.
- Genders, Bodies & Sexualities12.5
Genders, Bodies & Sexualities
Bodies, genders and sexualities are at the heart of many contemporary social, cultural and political debates. Bodies in the plural are the focus of this subject - fat bodies and perfect bodies and trans bodies and leaky bodies, for example - and are analysed through a discussion of contemporary social research and an exploration of visual depictions (including advertising, film, music videos, photography). This subject examines the nature of debates around bodies, genders and sexualities, questioning the how, why and the politics underpinning them.
- Romanticism, Feminism, Revolution12.5
Romanticism, Feminism, Revolution
This subject maps the intertwined (and sometimes antagonistic) trajectories of Romanticism and early Feminism, as they emerge in Britain in the wake of the American and French Revolutions. Drawing on prose, poetry and drama from this period (including texts by Byron, Blake, Bronte, Hays, Radcliffe, Robinson, Mary Shelley, P. B. Shelley and Wordsworth), it studies the construction of modern notions of literature, culture, sexuality, emancipation and revolution. In so doing, the subject brings into dialogue late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century philosophies of imagination and reason, accounts of the artist as Satan/Prometheus and Sappho, and myths of the lover as Don Juan and femme fatale. Students completing this subject should have a firm understanding of the literary, philosophical and cultural foundations of Romanticism and early Feminism, movements that have played key roles in the construction of the modern world.
- The Politics of Sex12.5
The Politics of Sex
This subject introduces ideas developed in feminist theory about the social and political construction of areas of experience relating to the body, gender and sexuality. Issues analysed in the subject include transsexualism, reproduction, eating disorders, pornography, sex work, sexual violence and sexual orientation. Students who complete this subject should be able to understand the ways in which issues connected with the body and sexuality are socially and politically constructed, understand the ways in which the construction of masculinity and femininity affects the learning and regulation of such areas of experience, and apply a variety of feminist approaches to the analysis of these issues.
- Sexing the Canvas: Art and Gender12.5
Sexing the Canvas: Art and Gender
What do pictures want in relation to sex and sexuality? How is art gendered? How do painters use the materiality of oil on canvas to make gendered critiques of the history of art and its cultures? Structured around the rich collections of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), each class will focus upon a specific work considering what insights a gendered analysis of it can provide. Lectures will be delivered in front of the paintings in situ in the gallery. Curatorial and expert academic staff from the NGV and the University of Melbourne will provide the lectures which will address a range of works drawn from the 18th century to the present. We will consider how gender, sex and sexuality impact on both the production and the reception of art and how artists utilise sexual codes at specific historical moments. Themes surrounding discourse, equality, ideology, and protest, will be addressed. We will consider how curatorial practises reinforce sexual difference through considering the artworks currently on display and how these produce meaning when they are taken as an aggregate in the context of an exhibition. We will study how works are conceptually framed by the information that the gallery provides about them through audio-guides, catalogue entries, hanging, and labelling. The subject will introduce you to key ideas from a number of thinkers including Judith Butler, Barbara Creed, Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigiary, Michele Foucault, W.J.T.Mitchell, Nicholas Chare, Svetlana Alpers, Michael Baxandall, Lynda Nead, Fred Orton, Griselda Pollock, Carol Duncan and Lisa Tickner.
- Racial Literacy: Indigeneity & Whiteness12.5
Racial Literacy: Indigeneity & Whiteness
This subject aims to enhance student's racial literacy with a focus on representations of Indigeneity and whiteness in Australia. The term, "racial literacy", devised to describe anti-racist practices, entails students becoming literate in critically reading and understanding multiple modes of race representation. The inter-disciplinary approach enables students to analyse the relationships among texts, images, language and social practices, drawing on Australian literature, media, film and the visual arts. In this way, the subject equips students to become multi-literate in critiquing race constructions of identity formation and nation building through the creative and communicative arts. The subject introduces students to critical theoretical frameworks incorporating postcolonial, race and whiteness studies. It will engage with questions of voice, position, power, agency, capital and social justice issues to explore how representations of Indigeneity and whiteness operate with regard to the intersections of race, gender and class relations in an Australian context (with links and comparisons also made to examples of race representation in a global context).
- Keeping the Body in Mind12.5
Keeping the Body in Mind
This subject introduces a wide range of anthropological interests in the human body from a comparative ethnographic perspective. It explores topics such as body image and eating disorders, trans/gendered bodies, sporting/dancing bodies, body modifications, consciousness and the body/mind continuum, commodified bodies, disabled bodies and body healing. We will investigate how the human body is individually and culturally constructed and socially experienced through a critical examination of a range of ethnographic and theoretical literature, as well as through the student's own bodily experiences and their exploratory field research.
- Sex in Science12.5
Sex in Science
Biological sex is both fundamental to reproduction and, in humans, the basis of the primary social category of gender, making it both an important and politically charged variable in scientific research across the biological and social sciences. In this subject, students will explore fundamental and controversial questions at the intersection of sex and science, and consider their wider social implications, as well as for science. The subject will tackle questions including:
- What is biological sex? Is it stable, fixed and binary?
- How do cultural assumptions about sex influence scientific questions, methods, analysis and interpretation: from genetics and endocrinology to neuroscience and evolutionary science?
- What does science tell us about how to think about the relations between sex and gender? What are the social and political implications of different accounts?
- What is the impact of scientific claims about sex in society? What should they be?
Students will encounter varied disciplinary perspectives on sex, and critically examine both academic and popular resources.
- Gender at Work in The World12.5
Gender at Work in The World
This subject explores diverse scenes, sites and spaces of gender as they occur in contemporary life and culture. It will draw on key theories and approaches to gender to study sexual difference and sexuality in relation to real world contexts including culture, home, education, media, politics, public and private institutions, and the law. The subject will provide Gender Studies students with the opportunity to reflect on, expand and synthesize the rich skills base from the Humanities and Social Sciences which they have cultivated during their studies. Additionally it offers an essential forum for discussion about how these skills can productively be applied in the professional workplace. This includes a consideration of how having a background in Gender Studies will enable potential future leaders in the workplace to challenge and counter discrimination and prejudice, to institute cultures of change and to champion Human Rights. The subject will feature regular guest lectures by arts, community, industry, and public sector leaders.
- Thinking Sex12.5
How do we come to experience ourselves as having a gender and a sexual orientation? How do social constructions of gender relate to understandings of sexuality? How have categories like masculinity and femininity; heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality transformed over time? This subject approaches gender and sexuality as historically and culturally contingent rather than as natural expressions of a private self. It provides the historical and theoretical frameworks for understanding the rise of specific genders and sexualities in relation to available medical, psychoanalytic, philosophical, political and popular discourses. Drawing from recent formations in both feminism and queer studies, this subject engages with a diverse range of cultural texts from the proceedings of court cases to personal advertisements, from celebrity gossip columns to popular film. On completion of this subject students should be able to explicate the complex imbrications of gender and sexuality and to analyse the representation of gendered and sexual identities and desires in selected cultural texts, which may include television, film, Internet and print media.
- International Gender Politics12.5
International Gender Politics
This subject will look at issues of gender and sexuality in an international context. It will cover war and militarism and their effect on women, the international division of labour, the effects of religious fundamentalisms, the politics of population and reproductive technologies, international trafficking in women, sexual violence and harmful cultural practices. Students who complete this subject should understand the ways in which gender politics might affect the study of international relations, understand how government policy and other forces operating in Australia and other Western countries are affecting the lives and opportunities of women and relationships between men and women in the rest of the world, be familiar with developments in feminist theory on the issues of human rights, cultural relativism, and have an understanding of international gender politics which can enrich their study of other subjects in the social sciences.
- A History of Sexualities12.5
A History of Sexualities
How have sexual practices and identities evolved, been represented and expressed from prehistory to the present? Where do our modern ideas about sexual orientation, gender and morality come from? In this subject we look at beliefs and practices around sexuality from prehistoric and ancient Greece, through the middle ages and early modern period, right up to the end of the twentieth century. We study the origins of the three major monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, to work out why their sacred texts present sex and gender in the way they do. We look at the intersection of race and sexuality in the colonial and postcolonial world, and study the influence of Freud and psychoanalysis on ideas of sexuality. Key moments like the sexual revolution and the AIDS crisis allow us to examine the history of political activism around sexuality. We take categories of classification and identity including transgender, cisgender, heterosexuality, bisexuality and homosexuality, and apply them to historical case studies. By charting a historical genealogy of sexual practices and ideas about sexual practices, the subject will show how the gendered body and sex have been simultaneously linked to social liberation and control. On completion of this subject, you should understand the ways in which sexualities have multiple histories and how they remain highly contested in the majority of cultures. The final assessment allows you to choose your own research question (with help from your teacher) on any topic that you’ve found intriguing on the subject.
- Anthropology of Kinship and Family12.5
Anthropology of Kinship and Family
Kinship studies has a long, important and contentious history in Anthropology. Drawing on this historical legacy this subject applies both classic and contemporary anthropological theories of family, kinship and social relatedness to a range of ethnographic case studies. The subject addresses three inter-related themes. Firstly, there is an anthropological focus on the links that exist between kinship and the nation-state in terms of national identity, ethnicity, migration and state policy. Secondly, the subject considers yet complicates imaginings of blood ties and biogenetic substance by examining the influences of black magic, ghost marriages, Skype, spiritual conception, milk, guns, deities, surrogate mothers and medical practitioners in the shaping of kin ties today. Finally, there is a focus on continuity and social change and the ways in which the meaning of family, kinship and social relationships are transformed or otherwise by new reproductive and genetic technologies, polygamy, same-sex relationships, friendships and the influence of internet and mobile-phone based forms of communication.
- Race and Gender: Philosophical Issues12.5
Race and Gender: Philosophical Issues
This subject surveys recent developments in our philosophical understanding and critiques of the social categories of race and gender. The subject will first explore issues in metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of language that arise for biological vs social constructivist accounts of race and gender. Special attention will be paid to the similarities and differences between race and gender and the ways in which they interact. If race and gender are biological categories, they may involve erroneous assumptions. If they are socially constructed categories, it follows that our current categories can be reshaped. This raises a number of moral and political questions regarding the best means to bring about change, including whether limiting freedom of speech can be justified. Philosophers studied include Anthony Appiah, Elizabeth Anderson, Sally Haslanger, Tommie Shelby, and Rae Langton.
- Film Noir: History and Sexuality12.5
Film Noir: History and Sexuality
This subject offers a close study of the phenomenon of film noir from its precursors in silent cinema, through classical and B film noir, to digital cinema. Film Noir: History and Sexuality will invite students to consider the way in which cultural, political and technological factors influence the aesthetics, narrative form and style of film noir. A key focus of this subject will be the changing representations of gender and sexuality and the challenges posed to regimes of censorship in cinema. Movements studied will include the silent film; German expressionism; classical Hollywood noir; noir revised by New Wave directors (particularly in France and Hong Kong), postmodern noir, post-noir and digital noir in the broader media ecology. Students should complete the subject with an understanding of various approaches to film historiography (including an exploration of archival histories, media archaeologies, intersections of memory and history as well as digital histories), a comprehensive synthesis of noir and its variants and an opportunity to connect theory and practice using digital tools.
- Gender in Hispanic Cultures12.5
Gender in Hispanic Cultures
Issues related to gender and sexuality are key to understand social and cultural practices in Spain and Spanish-speaking countries in the Americas. In this subject such issues are explored in relation to their representation in cultural texts – including fiction literature, film and TV. Major themes to be explored include gender violence, gay marriage legislation, gender reassignment legislation, post-colonial feminisms, new masculinities, and sexism in language.
- Language and Identity12.5
Language and Identity
This subject introduces students to the ways in which language indexes and constructs identities in social contexts. It introduces students to a range of theoretical approaches, and the distinctive research methodologies associated with each. These include language socialization. studies of language in social interaction using the techniques of Conversation Analysis and discourse analysis (including critical discourse analysis). and poststructuralist approaches to language and subjectivity. Topics covered will include gender-related language use, language and racism, language and sexuality, the negotiation and deployment of identities in face-to-face interaction, and the way language and discourse construct and maintain a sense of "otherness". On completion of the subject, students should be able to recognise ways in which language and discourse construct particular social identities of relevance to themselves, and critically analyse ways of thinking about the complex phenomenon of language and identity.